Remote Sensing Success at the Smith’s St. Leonard Site


Earlier in 2012, JPPM hired geophysicist Tim Horsley to conduct three different types of remote sensing—ground penetrating radar, magnetometer, and soil resistivity—across the Smith’s St. Leonard site. These types of geophysical surveys can help reveal the locations of subsurface disturbances such as wells, privies, and building cellars prior to putting a shovel into the ground, and are a valuable tool for helping plan excavation. Tim observed numerous subsurface anomalies, including a large, deep anomaly in the area where an eighteenth-century storehouse may have been located.

Tim Horsley resistivity meter, with Christa
Volunteer Christa Conant assists Tim Horsley with soil resistivity testing at the Smith’s St. Leonard site.

Preliminary GPR south end
The red outlined box at the lower right depicts the projected location of the cellar.

Alex, Ed and Annette worked throughout the summer and fall to remove the overlying plowed soil from areas where Tim’s testing had found anomalies. In every location that Tim predicted a subsurface feature, the digging showed the accuracy of his testing. As October drew to an end, the decision was made to test the possible storehouse cellar. Tim predicted that this 20 by 20 ft. feature would contain large quantities of brick at a depth of about four feet.

18CV91 - 2233F Alex excavating in cellar(3)
Field technician Alex Glass has the unenviable task of balancing on brick rubble as she digs!

And sure enough, after several days of careful troweling, Alex and Annette came upon a layer of brick rubble, about three feet under the ground surface! Way to go, Tim! The rubble has been removed and preliminary testing suggests that the cellar fill extends at least another foot or so deeper, possibly bottoming out on a brick floor. Unfortunately, the cellar soil has not been particularly artifact-rich, so we don’t yet have a good date on the filling of the cellar. In addition to wine bottle glass, oyster shell, and a few fragmented white clay tobacco pipes, the crew did find this nice brass buckle. Curator Sara Rivers Cofield believes it could have been part of a horse harness. We hope that continued work in the cellar will yield further clues about the function of the building and its construction and destruction dates.

buckle 18CV91 - 2233G
Ornately shaped brass buckle from the cellar fill.

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Conservation of Smith’s St. Leonard Artifacts


Various metal objects from the cellar feature of the Smith’s St. Leonard site are being treated in the conservation department of the MAC Lab. Among them are buttons, thimbles, spoons, buckles, hinge parts, and a piece of a furniture escutcheon (a plate or flange that protects the wood of the furniture from being struck by the handle). There are also a couple of unknown objects, the cleaning and conservation of which may help archaeologists identify them. In addition to the metal objects being treated, conservators have also begun working on the portion of a foldable fan discovered in the cellar. The ivory fan “sticks” (the part of the fan that would be held in your hand) will be cleaned, and the copper alloy “rivet” (the piece that fastens the sticks together) will be treated to stabilize the metal.


One of the unidentified metal artifacts


Archaeologist delicately removing remains of the fan from the cellar feature